On reproductive rights, the records of Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden are about as different as Democratic candidates’ records can be. “Biden over 36 years in Congress staked out a reputation as one of the Democratic Party’s most conservative voices on abortion,” as Politico summarized last year. According to the Planned Parenthood Action Fund’s 2016 review, on the other hand, “There’s no question: Senator Bernie Sanders has a strong record on reproductive rights.”
Here’s how Politico elaborates on Joe Biden’s record:
For decades, [Joe Biden] opposed late-term and so-called partial birth abortions, lamenting that one ban enacted in the 1990s did not go far enough. He supported Republican presidents’ prohibitions on funding for groups that promote abortions overseas, and backed legislation that would have allowed states to overturn Roe v. Wade. He even fought unsuccessfully to widen religious groups’ exemptions from the Affordable Care Act’s mandate for birth control coverage…
In public statements, interviews and recently resurfaced videos, Biden said he believed that “abortion is wrong from the moment of conception,” and said he doesn’t “view abortion as a choice and a right” but rather “always a tragedy.” He also said he did not believe that “a woman has the sole right to say what should happen to her body.”
Biden voted for the adoption of the Hyde Amendment in the 1970s and later opposed efforts to make exemptions and fund abortions for women who were victims of rape or incest.
He held that position until [the late spring of 2019, after he began his 2020 presidential campaign.]
Here’s how the Planned Parenthood Action Fund elaborates on Bernie Sanders’s record:
Sanders Has a 100% Voting Record on the Action Fund Scorecard
When the Action Fund started scoring congressional votes in 1995 (a few years after Sanders began his tenure in Congress), one of the first votes we scored was an amendment to allow over $190 million for family planning projects under Title X. Then-Representative Sanders was a key vote in moving that amendment forward. Throughout his career, he has continued to vote to protect access to safe and legal abortion, as well as federal funding for family planning and health care provided at Planned Parenthood health centers.
Sanders Supports Expanded Access to Birth Control
To this day, Sanders also has reliably and consistently voted to ensure women’s access to the full range of birth control options. During the fight over the Blunt Amendment, which would have allowed employers to opt out of providing insurance coverage of birth control, Sanders gave a speech on the Senate floor voicing his opposition:
“…there is growing anger that members of Congress, mostly men I should add, are trying to roll back the clock on women’s rights… Let me add my strong belief that if the United States Senate had 83 women and 17 men rather than 83 men and 17 women that a bill like this would never even make it to the floor.”
What’s more, he supports the Affordable Care Act, including its mandated coverage for birth control, and co-sponsored a bill that would protect women from bosses who want to block this coverage from them…
Sanders [also] signed onto a friend-of-the-court brief to the Supreme Court advocating against the Hobby Lobby’s decision to deny insurance coverage for contraception to their employees…
Sanders Supports Access to Abortion
To sum-up Sanders’ stance on abortion, just read what he had to say in a 2012 op-ed:
“We are not returning to the days of back-room abortions, when countless women died or were maimed. The decision about abortion must remain a decision for the woman, her family and physician to make, not the government.”
His strong position that we, as a nation, will never go backwards when it comes to access to abortion care is a major reason why Sanders is in our corner.
Sanders has also been a cosponsor of one of the most proactive pieces of legislation that would prevent states from chipping away at abortion access: The Women’s Health Protection Act, introduced in 2015 and 2013. This act would prevent politicians from passing laws aimed at shutting down health centers by imposing unnecessary building regulations and medical procedures such as mandatory ultrasounds — which have the sole intent of shaming women and making it harder for them to access safe, legal abortion…
On the campaign trail, Sanders boldly defended abortion access at the Christian institution Liberty University despite the fact that the university is so conservative that Ted Cruz announced his run for president there…
Sanders Has Stood With Planned Parenthood
The PPAF thanks Sanders for being an unwavering ally of Planned Parenthood patients and consistently voting in favor of protecting patients who rely on federal funds to access birth control, cancer screenings, and other basic health care at Planned Parenthood health centers.
If Bernie Sanders is elected, pro-choice women can feel confident he’ll have their backs. If Joe Biden is elected, regardless of what he says during campaign season, pro-choice women will have a lot of reasons to worry.